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This paper presents the development and implementation of a physics-based diode model which can simulate aspects of high-voltage diodes such as snappy recovery during punch-through and the modified carrier density profile due to local lifetime control. It uses a Fourier series solution for the ambipolar diffusion equation in the lightly doped base region. The model is compared with finite-element device simulations. A parameter extraction procedure for the diode with lifetime control is proposed in Part II.